Don't Let Adulting Kill Your Inner Child
So I’m going to put this out there, I was the best child ever. No, I wasn’t very obedient or thoughtful. I’m pretty sure I was a mix between a shy asshole, who could be friendly and outgoing at the same time.
However, it was my imagination and creativity that made me the best kid ever. My imagination rivaled all imaginations. Whether it was living in the wild west, or being a detective who discovered a bomb in the lasagne, I loved creating worlds for my friends and me to live in. If you came to my house, I’d give you a storyline and role; then I expected any visitor to jump into the fun. My grandma would watch my sisters and me, baffled how we could create complex worlds that would last from morning until bedtime.
Like many “grown-ups” I lost my imagination along the road to adulthood. My dreams went from being the first U.S. black woman president to aspiring to be a director of [insert ordinary job title here]. There’s nothing wrong with being a VP or a director of something, but that path is more traditional and less out of the box. But what happened to reach for the stars and dream big?
I went from daydreaming during all of my waking hours to freaking out for not being productive enough. One fun-filled Saturday, I had an early morning nature walk, brunch and did some day drinking at a cantina with some friends. With each new activity, I felt increasingly anxious. My friends kept suggesting more things to do because we didn’t have any other plans.
For whatever reason, I couldn’t shake the uneasiness of forgetting something or being regretful about not writing more blog posts or getting my business together. I wasn't being "productive."
What's wrong with me? Childhood Adrienne would have been appalled.
Honestly, even though they're loud, messy and are a carrier for many viruses like the common cold and the flu, children are awesome. They look at the world differently. They have imagination. Not everything has to have a purpose. Whenever I tap into my inner child, I have to admit; creativity and awesomeness spill into my life.
So how do I silence my puritan values of working and being productive all of the time to having more fun? I find things that allow my inner child to come out. Here are a few tips.
1. Take a trip
There are few things better than packing a bag, flicking on that out of office reply and going on an adventure. Trips can be inspirational, especially if you’re in a new region, country or culture because they force you to be a kid again. Between learning new things and getting into some adventures, trips remove you from your day-to-day existence.
Think about it, in adulthood; we’re not really encouraged to learn something new. Time is money, and folks don’t have the time, money or desire to teach you new things. While in Cuba, I learned about the culture and road a horse -- something I hadn't done since I was 10. The trip honestly inspired me to start Adulting & Screaming.
Are you strapped for cash? Travel does not have to be expensive. Sites like Groupon, Secret Flying, and Travel Pirates have great deals on flights and hotels, whether you want to go around the world or somewhere in the U.S.
Also, don’t overlook places that are right under your nose. Play tourist in your own town. If you want to stay local, but want to get out of your house, download Hotel Tonight to get last minute deals.
2. Get a hobby
Netflix and chilling, happy hour and brunch are my favorite things to do. Although they bring me great joy, they’re not really hobbies. Hobbies are great because it allows your mind to focus on something other than all the adult responsibilities you have. You’ll use different brain muscles which will help you tap into your inner creativity and relieve stress.
I recently participated in a Cocktails + Crafts class. Think paint, glitter, vision boards and liquor! Although I'll never complain about a good cocktail, it was the painting that soothed away my adulting worries. With each brush stroke and a sprinkle of glitter, I felt my adulting anxieties lift off of my shoulders.
That's motivated me to learn more about photography, cooking, anything that keeps me busy and lets my creativity shine.
Okay, so this was a little more stressful than I originally anticipated. I bought Jenny Lawson’s “You Are Here” coloring book which she created to cope with her anxiety. Shoot, I have anxiety, sign me up. I looked at the book for like 10 minutes, not wanting to mess things up. I looked at my colored pencils thinking about the perfect color combination before I even made a mark in the book. Clearly, I was over thinking this.
However, once I got started, it was nice to unplug and color.
4. Read for fun
When’s the last time you’ve read a book that wasn’t school or work related? Books allow us to tap into our imaginations. Unlike movies or shows, books force us to visualize a story or another world. If being in a deadline-oriented environment is the only way you’ll pick up and read a book, join or start a book club so you’ll have a group of accountability partners.
5. Do something you’re not good at
Although I’ve held many job titles over the years, the majority of them require the same skills. I need to be able to be creative, read quickly, write and engage with people. So imagine my surprise when I worked for a startup that expected me to use HTML and CSS.
Lowkey, I wasn’t thrilled. As I stumbled through learning code and testing whether what I did worked, I remember thinking, “Why can’t someone else do this?” There were two people at the startup who could update the website faster than I could.
That’s when it hit me; I wasn’t always good at marketing. I wasn’t always good at PR. I needed to accept that I was giving an opportunity to learn something new. How many bosses have allowed you to practice or try something outside of your proven strengths? To date, one.
After completing the experience, I learned more about myself. No longer pigeonholed, I began seeking new opportunities that allowed me to use my shiny, new technical skills.
If you've been told your whole life you can't write well, but you've always wanted to try, create a short story. You might find out something new about yourself.
Life's too short and stressful to be a stuffy boring adult. We may not be able to go back in time and live life as a carefree child, but we can still feed our soul with activities that remind us of when we dreamed of being presidents or superheroes.
How do you feed your inner child?